Posts Tagged ‘mental-health’

Two weeks ago I visited my client at Juvenile Hall. After locking my belongings in a locker in the deserted visitors’ waiting area, I was shepherded through four sets of locked doors by a female voice on the intercom. Inside, the voice told me to freeze until the transfer of one of the youths at the far end of the corridor was completed. I caught my first glimpse of Julian in Unit 2, where he was sitting among a group of teens in navy blue uniforms in a small room off of a large, empty central space. I walked toward the room and a man sitting outside it gestured toward one of the tables in the room. Two boys stood, hesitantly. “Julian,” the man said to them a second time, and through the glass wall of the room I saw one of the boys point to himself and mouth, “Me?,” in […]

Tonight I had dinner with a law school classmate and her friend from college, who is now a third-year associate at a big firm in San Francisco. We had barely been at our table for two minutes before she began to talk about her dreams of opening up a flower shop. “How long have you been at the firm?” I asked. “Two and a half years.” “Oh, that’s early to want out. Most of the people I know want to leave after four years or so.” “Not at my firm. More like one year.” She had recently spent three months working on a famous case between a Silicon Valley heavyweight and a foreign competitor. “Oh cool. What did you do for the case?” “Discovery.” When I asked what she worked on after that case, she said, “Nothing.” For the next several months she billed one or two hours a day, […]

I’m 6 months into starting my own practice out of law school and the emotions have been world-beater elation one day followed by my wife taking me off the ledge the next. (Source: Comment, “I Just Want to Practice Law Postmortem,” Lawyerist.com) Starting any kind of business is an emotional roller coaster. The most blasé entrepreneurs I know have resorted to medication to handle the stress that comes with starting a practice. I don’t recommend medication, but learning to control the anxiety is critical. Going solo is hard enough, but doing it right out of law school can seem impossible and terrifying. Below are some strategies for quelling anxiety. Focus on the present, not the past or the future Take one day at a time. Don’t worry about the future. Plan for it and prepare for it, but don’t get anxious over it. A man who suffers before it is necessary […]

If you are struggling with anxiety, it may help to know that it is likely in large part the product of particularly American cultural forces. America’s anxiety epidemic The following is taken from a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly, called “Trickle-Down Distress: How America’s Broken Meritocracy Drives our National Anxiety Epidemic“: Americans lead the world in anxiety. A World Health Organization survey found that 31% of Americans suffer from anxiety at some point in their lifetimes, compared to 25.3% of those in Colombia and 24.6% of those in New Zealand, the countries that rank second and third in rates of anxiety. “[P]eople in developing-world countries such as Nigeria are up to five times less likely to show clinically significant anxiety levels than Americans, despite having more basic life-necessities to worry about, ” writes Taylor Clark, author of Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool. But when […]

As author Taylor Clark argues in a recent Slate article, Americans have a cultural intolerance for bad emotions. “We vilify our aversive emotions and fight them.” Psychologist Steven Hayes says we’ve fallen victim to “feel-goodism,” the false idea that “bad” feelings ought to be eradicated with medication. This attitude not only ignores the fact that negative emotions are an indelible part of the human condition, but also that negative emotions can be ennobling (when they are unavoidable) — not necessarily a reason to feel shame — and, when we take time to understand them, educational.  The first noble truth of the Buddha is that when we feel suffering, it doesn’t mean something is wrong. – Pema Chödrön Fear, pain — the emotions that Americans too often treat as “bad” — can be our greatest gifts. Fear, says Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön, introduces us to all the teaching we’ve ever had. “When things fall apart,” when we lose the security we seek, we can […]